To work the marbling out of our fat and happy buns, we decided dancing was in order. We wandered over to Mez, the EpiCentre’s dance club for Charlotte’s beautiful people. Inside, it was pure 2004: well-dressed young men smirking and posing, barely dressed young women gyrating and lip-synching, neither expressing a care in the world other than for exploring their appreciation of apple- bottom jeans and boots with the fur, if T-Pain’s lyrics can be taken literally.

Truth be told, it was impossible not to get swept up in the joie de vivre on display this night in Charlotte. The streets of the large city’s urban core were filled with bustling people, even past midnight. Their faces were diverse and glowing. The streets were clean. There was an energy present that at once felt recently manufactured (because it was; Charlotte is a very new city, if nothing else) and yet somehow organic, incongruous as that may seem.

Then we were swept up literally; it was like a wave took us onto the dance floor. Although we drove the club’s median age up just by entering the door, that didn’t stop us from feeling welcome among the undulating group of beautiful, young Charlotte denizens. We spent the last hours of the early morning among them, imbibing responsibly, altering our standard fox-trot moves to better complement the impressive backside gyrations popular among today’s Fred and Ginger wannabes. For a night, it looked and felt like all things were possible, like America was going to be just fine, and like the tilt in our ship would surely right itself by daylight.